With Apple Arcade in full swing, along with loads of other indies releasing their games on mobile, we’ve been spoiled for choice when it comes to all of the lovely games coming out! Apple Arcade is releasing new games weekly it feels, while other developers are still being featured on Android and iOS, as independent releases without the program.
With such a flood of games coming out now, I had to search through the masses. So for October, I’ve cherry-picked my top five favorite indie games from a variety of genres and types. And as usual, I’ve explained exactly why they are so wonderful in this post.
Packing different genres into a single game can be a dangerous balance, but the developers at Jolly Good Games managed to do so in a way that doesn’t seem forced in Starbeard. Featuring characters with various epic beards, your character picks their path before entering levels where they can seamlessly defend flowers at the bottom of the screen, play a Match-3 game, and fight monsters all at once.
Combining different genres makes for a unique game
The best thing about Starbeard is the combination of so many different types of games, all done in a very polished way. There are touches of tower defense, when it comes to your main character needing to defend the flowers at the bottom which act like your lives. And you can see aspects of Match-3, as the main way of playing is matching three different icons. These two genres make sense together, but then rogue-like aspects are thrown in.
Much like Slay the Spire, you can see the path you’ll take forward, with various stops that upgrade the abilities your character has, fight off monsters, or purchase something new. These rogue-like aspects, in my opinion, really make Starbeard stand out especially when Match-3 games can get really repetitive. But with the different paths and upgrades our main character can choose from (and so many characters to select from), each run feels really unique and playable!
2. Projection: First Light
- Developer: Shadowplay Studios
- Launch date: September 19th, 2019
- Price: Free, with Apple Arcade
- Available on: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, iOS
Projection: First Light is not only an interesting and unique puzzle game, but it also has a beautiful and deep story. Without spoiling too much, you play as a young girl called Greta, and after a particularly tough day, players will find themselves exploring this world by using the power of light.
Story-telling through graphics and cutscenes
The first thing that stood out about Projection: First Light was the way the game shared its story. Instead of using words, the developer opted to tell the story of the game through graphics and cutscenes. The game doesn’t rely on dialogue or words appearing on the screen, but instead showcases what is going on through character movement and environmental storytelling. This is a very clever idea, as the narrative doesn’t need to be translated into different languages or to be read to be understood, instead the entire thing is told through what you see.
These bits of storytelling are tied together, beautifully, through the light puzzles in Projection: First Light, showcasing yet another way that platformers can stand out. Without the puzzle mechanics in the game, you’d have an interesting story with not a lot else going on. Playing with such starkly dark graphics, the light aspects do brighten up each scene and make it seem like there is a lot of hope going forward. The developers did an amazing job of not overwhelming the player with the unique puzzling aspect, which does become very complex as the game goes on. If you’re looking to make a puzzle game, Projection: First Light is a game well worth taking a look at, to see pacing, getting players warmed up to new concepts, and intertwining story with puzzle.
- Developer: Beyondthosehills/Andreas Diktyopoulos
- Launch date: October 10th, 2019
- Price: $3.99
- Available on: iOS
Puzzle games are a dime a dozen, but often a few selected puzzle games push above the crowd. Reky is a puzzle game that adds some unique perspectives and sleek levels to entice new players into the game. Your goal is to get your orb creature to the end of the level, but often you’ll need to take colors from other blocks and move them around, so that blocks can be activated and moved into place.
Perspective can really change the feel of a game
When it comes to perspective, many games are top-down or side-on, but Reky is almost halfway between these two. Often blocks are covered by their simple environment, meaning you cannot move them or take colors from them. Combined with the simplistic design and a really great tutorial, Reky becomes one of my favorite puzzle games to date.
Compared to other simple block-pushing puzzlers, having to consider the environment and perspective the block has before making your next move brings a new challenge. Isometric or semi-isometric views benefit greatly from such simplistic visuals as well.
4. Various Daylife
- Developer: Doki Doki Grove Works
- Launch date: September 19th, 2019
- Price: Free with Apple Arcade
- Available on: iOS
Various Daylife is an anime-styled RPG, where you have just arrived on a new island, looking for a home and a way of life. You get to answer several personal questions about why you are on this island, which then determines your character statistics and your job placement.
There is a lot to do in this game, which will appeal to a wider player base and keep people interested in the game from moving onto something else, as there are still more options to explore and things to do. Players can wander around, speak to random individuals, fight in forests, work shifts at their jobs to earn money and also look for new quests to earn more money. With so many options, this RPG is one that players just won’t get easily bored of, so if you’re looking to make an RPG, Various Daylife is one worth playing before you start creating your own.
Open world with a perfect mini-map
The best thing about Various Daylife is its mini-map, which takes the open 3D world and places it perfectly onto mobile devices. (Especially when it comes to large worlds in mobile games, it’s much more challenging to make a world of this size feel huge and not overwhelming at the same time). Within the title, there is a line chart at the bottom of the screen with various points on it, which are places you can stop and go to. And whenever you have a quest or special mission, your line map gains an exclamation point. It’s a very clever way of shrinking down the world into maps.
Apart from the wonderful use of maps, Various Daylife introduces the player to various, well-written characters at a very good pace. Traveling around the world, you’re able to find random characters who may ask you for things or just tell you more about the land you are living in. These characters seem interesting and each has its own personality, adding quite a bit of depth within the game. Some of them join your team, ask for items, or are just friendly faces you see around the pub.
5. Nood Climbrs
Climbing around a simple yet challenging rock wall while being completely nude is the premise of Nood Climbrs – which is all in all a pretty funny little game. Your character is basically a very flexible nudist who is trying to climb their way across the wall and unlock different features. Rewards are given based on speed, accuracy, and the number of levels you play.
Clean, Simple levels to play quick
Nood Climbrs is very simple, but the quick and fun levels really keep you playing one more at a time. Most of these levels can be completed in under a minute, keeping true to the casual nature of the game. In that minute you will be moving quickly and unlocking loads of customization options. These different customization options come in the form of tattoos, hairstyles, clothing, and more, quickly dressing you up instead of keeping your character nude. There is no real end game here, just more complex levels and cooler stuff to unlock.
Noodlecake has done an amazing job of keeping the game sleek and simple, allowing players to spend some time playing between getting on the tube or waiting in a queue. It’s a great casual game, with such colorful and sleek visuals, that everything is super easy to understand. The controls are a tad clunky, but the visuals and quick one-minute levels make for a brilliant casual game that can easily turn into hours of fun.
Think we missed any games? Ping us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll consider it for next month’s post!